Science! (Herd Immunity)

Isn't science amazing?  There is a problem and even policies intended to alleviate the symptoms of the problem.  But science, real science, keeps questioning and challenging the existing consensus and dogma.

Take for instance the Great Barrington Declaration.  Apparently,  these scientists say that there are costs associated with locking down society.  And not just the disastrous financial implications.  There are public health costs outside of covid.  These include mental health issues, cardiovascular issues, a decrease in cancer screenings, lower childhood vaccination rates, and elevated Tuberculosis deaths.  All of these will result in higher mortality rates going forward.

Furthermore,  they say that we will reach here immunity one way or another.  This is inevitable.   So, considering the risk of death is minimal in younger people they prescribe a concept they call focused protection.

Under this focused protection policy, we would open society to those that have a remote mortality risk from covid.  We would then protect the vulnerable. 

They say that if we did this that we would build herd immunity primarily through the young and healthy.   Thereby reducing the rate of death from the disease.  We would also eliminate much of the damage being done by the lockdown policies.


Here is an interview with these 3 scientists:



Oy. More libertarian claptrap.

Show me where there is any evidence of naturally developed herd immunity for any covid type virus. These people are pulling "science" out of their butts.

I'll wait.


We could be at a point in our society where we are doing this if our current administration hadn't utterly ****** up the initial response to the pandemic. 

Also do you want to volunteer to be one of the people who dies or suffers serious long lasting health issues because of a COVID-19 infection?


What happened to liberal open mindedness?  Below are the people you claim are pulling science out of their butts. 

Dr. Martin Kulldorff, professor of medicine at Harvard University, a biostatistician, and epidemiologist with expertise in detecting and monitoring of infectious disease outbreaks and vaccine safety evaluations.

Dr. Sunetra Gupta, professor at Oxford University, an epidemiologist with expertise in immunology, vaccine development, and mathematical modeling of infectious diseases.

Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, professor at Stanford University Medical School, a physician, epidemiologist, health economist, and public health policy expert focusing on infectious diseases and vulnerable populations

These are not lightweights.   Already over 10,000 medical practitioners have signed on.  I highly suggest you watch the video.  Otherwise, I'm suspicious that it is not science you value, but simply authority.  And it would seem at any cost.


mrincredible said:

We could be at a point in our society where we are doing this if our current administration hadn't utterly ****** up the initial response to the pandemic. 

Also do you want to volunteer to be one of the people who dies or suffers serious long lasting health issues because of a COVID-19 infection?

 Regarding the first paragraph, you don't know that.  And even if it's true, we are where we are.  Its completely irrelevant. 

And I don't want to die or suffer serious long lasting health issues from covid or any of the other myriad of diseases and risks I take on any day I leave the house and live my life.  I want to live.  Furthermore, I want others to be free to live,  Those who are at risk and/or are afraid can stay home.  


terp said:

And I don't want to die or suffer serious long lasting health issues from covid or any of the other myriad of diseases and risks I take on any day I leave the house and live my life.  I want to live.  Furthermore, I want others to be free to live,  Those who are at risk and/or are afraid can stay home.  

I don't know how the random stay-home-or-go-out approach would work. 

Also, nobody knows what the Covid-19 will do to anyone who catches it, such as if they are teachers at work.


Europeans had herd immunity to bubonic plague.  That's why only 1/3 of them died every time it flared up.

The problem with the analysis in the video is not the science, it is that you have three medical scientists trying to do an economic analysis.  They are outside of their fields and into a field where they know no more than you or I do.


If only Science! were as cut and dried and 2 + 2.


max_weisenfeld said:


The problem with the analysis in the video is not the science, it is that you have three medical scientists trying to do an economic analysis.

“Focused protection”: “For people older in the work force, 60 years old, they should work from home.”

Call me, the son of an active landscaper in his 80s, underwhelmed by the practical applications of focused protection.

ETA: I know, I know. Policy shouldn’t have to accommodate all working octogenarians, even if they’re armed with pruning shears. Still, I can’t help wondering how many seniors in the work force really have do-from-home jobs.


The American approach has been incredibly costly. We've chosen to take on the severe economic pain of lock downs early on, then done very little with the breathing room that bought us and now have both high rates of covid transmission and a severely hobbled economy.

If we look at other countries, we see a variety of strategies used, many of which have been more effective. Some countries locked down hard and early and then were able to open up their economy back at close to full strength. Others avoided lock downs but consistently followed practices such as mask wearing, social distancing, and good sanitation, and avoided the kinds of explosive infection rates we've seen here.

What absolutely has not worked is to just try and go about as if everything is normal in the hopes of "herd immunity."

People don't want to shut down the economy? Then wear a damn mask, social distance, and wash your hands.


PVW said:

What absolutely has not worked is to just try and go about as if everything is normal in the hopes of "herd immunity."

The three scientists, of course, make a point of saying they don’t suggest doing nothing and acting as if everything were normal. What I heard of their focused protection (I didn’t watch the whole video) was unconvincing, however.


DaveSchmidt said:

PVW said:

What absolutely has not worked is to just try and go about as if everything is normal in the hopes of "herd immunity."

The three scientists, of course, make a point of saying they don’t suggest doing nothing and acting as if everything were normal. What I heard of their focused protection (I didn’t watch the whole video) was unconvincing, however.


I haven't watched the video, but read the declaration, and was concerned by this passage:

"The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk. We call this Focused Protection."

By living life normally, do they mean keep going to work, attending school, but wear masks and keep social distance? Or are they literally advocating for millions of people to get infected? If the latter, I'm sorry, but that seems grossly irresponsible as, even at the lower mortality rates, that's still a plan to have tens of thousands or more die. It also seems rather blase about the ill health effects for those who don't die. We don't even know the long term effects yet -- this disease is less than a year old in the human population.

Ultimately, it's setting up a false dichotomy -- the economy vs public health. Even here in the US, we're nowhere as locked down as we were in the spring, and another round of stimulus would go a long way to helping the economy. I know many people pushing the "don't fear covid" line are opposed to stimulus on ideological reasons, but if we get into that argument we're definitely leaving the realm of science far behind.


Spit take

max_weisenfeld said:

Europeans had herd immunity to bubonic plague.  That's why only 1/3 of them died every time it flared up.


And just how the **** would letting people less likely to die from COVID-19 resume active community life coincide with protecting those that are more vulnerable? Here and there you find younger people living with older people - like their PARENTS and/or GRANDPARENTS. Or occasionally you'll see a family with one sibling that has an autoimmune disease or your garden variety asthma. Ooh! What about couples where one person is overweight or has something silly like diabetes? 

Are all those people just going to have to be benched to protect the more vulnerable? I guess we could repurpose the space in closed-out shopping malls or the old Saks 5th Ave building on Millburn Ave to make them dorms for the vulnerable.

Sorry, I just had to write a social work paper and I'm feeling a little chippy.


This article by the science editor of Wired (U.K.) raises some good points, some already made by others here.

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/great-barrington-declaration-herd-immunity-scientific-divide

One excerpt for bikefixed (assuming he dodged a five-minute major for chippiness):

In a video interview with UnHerd, Jay Bhattacharya a professor at Stanford University Medical School and one of the declaration’s authors, struggled to explain how a school age child living with a grandparent should actually change their behaviour to protect people.

DaveSchmidt said:

Call me, the son of an active landscaper in his 80s, underwhelmed by the practical applications of focused protection.


 small world. me too. (well, Dad didn't quite make it to his eighties, but still....)


max_weisenfeld said:

Europeans had herd immunity to bubonic plague.  That's why only 1/3 of them died every time it flared up.

The problem with the analysis in the video is not the science, it is that you have three medical scientists trying to do an economic analysis.  They are outside of their fields and into a field where they know no more than you or I do.

 As I'm sure you know, here immunity is not a goal, but an inevitability.   The question is: how do we get there?  What is your proposal? 

And what economic aspect of the situation do you think they are wrong on?


PVW said:

The American approach has been incredibly costly. We've chosen to take on the severe economic pain of lock downs early on, then done very little with the breathing room that bought us and now have both high rates of covid transmission and a severely hobbled economy.

If we look at other countries, we see a variety of strategies used, many of which have been more effective. Some countries locked down hard and early and then were able to open up their economy back at close to full strength. Others avoided lock downs but consistently followed practices such as mask wearing, social distancing, and good sanitation, and avoided the kinds of explosive infection rates we've seen here.

What absolutely has not worked is to just try and go about as if everything is normal in the hopes of "herd immunity."

People don't want to shut down the economy? Then wear a damn mask, social distance, and wash your hands.

 This is a mischaracterization of what they are saying.  But, what were we supposed to do with the "breathing room" the lockdowns gave us?


The lack of verifiable information on duration of immunity and degree of mutation of this virus lead me to question the efficacy of this approach, I just don't see how it would work.  

Those in the "protected" class, even if they live alone and self isolate most of the time, would have to be in contact with members of the "unprotected" class from time to time.  Food shopping, even if by delivery, would entail person to person contact whether with people in the store(s) or with delivery people.  Doctors appointments, filling a prescription, going outside for a little fresh air, all require some personal contact.  After six months, many members of the "protected" class need help from others to perform some form of home maintenance or home repair that cannot be done from outside the home.  Problem would worsen if "protection" were extended even further.

We could herd the elderly and immune system compromised into a form of detention camp where they can be fully isolated from the general population but we saw how well that approach has worked with nursing homes and athletic team bubbles.  

Experience has shown an increase in dementia and depression among the elderly who have been so isolated.  What would work best is if everyone, regardless of age or the state of their health were to behave as if they were a member of the "protected" class by wearing face coverings whenever they go outside, avoiding crowds, practicing good hygiene, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.


DaveSchmidt said:

max_weisenfeld said:


The problem with the analysis in the video is not the science, it is that you have three medical scientists trying to do an economic analysis.

“Focused protection”: “For people older in the work force, 60 years old, they should work from home.”

Call me, the son of an active landscaper in his 80s, underwhelmed by the practical applications of focused protection.

ETA: I know, I know. Policy shouldn’t have to accommodate all working octogenarians, even if they’re armed with pruning shears. Still, I can’t help wondering how many seniors in the work force really have do-from-home jobs.

 Has your father been working the last 6 months?


terp said:

 As I'm sure you know, here immunity is not a goal, but an inevitability.   The question is: how do we get there?  What is your proposal? 

Vaccine. 


joan_crystal said:

The lack of verifiable information on duration of immunity and degree of mutation of this virus lead me to question the efficacy of this approach, I just don't see how it would work.  

Those in the "protected" class, even if they live alone and self isolate most of the time, would have to be in contact with members of the "unprotected" class from time to time.  Food shopping, even if by delivery, would entail person to person contact whether with people in the store(s) or with delivery people.  Doctors appointments, filling a prescription, going outside for a little fresh air, all require some personal contact.  After six months, many members of the "protected" class need help from others to perform some form of home maintenance or home repair that cannot be done from outside the home.  Problem would worsen if "protection" were extended even further.

We could herd the elderly and immune system compromised into a form of detention camp where they can be fully isolated from the general population but we saw how well that approach has worked with nursing homes and athletic team bubbles.  

Experience has shown an increase in dementia and depression among the elderly who have been so isolated.  What would work best is if everyone, regardless of age or the state of their health were to behave as if they were a member of the "protected" class by wearing face coverings whenever they go outside, avoiding crowds, practicing good hygiene, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

 I don't think anyone is talking about herding the elderly into anything.  However, there is a recognition that those in long term health facilities are at highest risk.  The recommendation was to limit exposure to those people by tightening the staff and to vigorously test staff and any visitors. 

BTW:  the elderly are not the only people who suffer from the isolation that we've been subject to.  Mental health issues are way up.  For example, in June 25% of 18-24 year olds who were polled considered suicide in the last month.


nohero said:

terp said:

 As I'm sure you know, here immunity is not a goal, but an inevitability.   The question is: how do we get there?  What is your proposal? 

Vaccine. 

 Awesome.  Where do we get this magical elixir? 


terp said:

nohero said:

terp said:

 As I'm sure you know, here immunity is not a goal, but an inevitability.   The question is: how do we get there?  What is your proposal? 

Vaccine. 

 Awesome.  Where do we get this magical elixir? 

Where? Science! 


even if the state were to open up all businesses, who is going to patronize them?  how many people are going to go to movie theaters or concerts or indoor dining, knowing that a lot of people won't wear face coverings and won't social distance?  The majority of people are isolating themselves from risky situations because they don't want to become infected regardless of what laws are in place by the states.  In fact, cell phone data from back in March/April showed that even in states that hadn't imposed restrictions, people were quarantining themselves.  We're isolated because of the virus, regardless of what regulations the state imposes, and we won't be free again until the pandemic is under control.  


terp said:

PVW said:

The American approach has been incredibly costly. We've chosen to take on the severe economic pain of lock downs early on, then done very little with the breathing room that bought us and now have both high rates of covid transmission and a severely hobbled economy.

If we look at other countries, we see a variety of strategies used, many of which have been more effective. Some countries locked down hard and early and then were able to open up their economy back at close to full strength. Others avoided lock downs but consistently followed practices such as mask wearing, social distancing, and good sanitation, and avoided the kinds of explosive infection rates we've seen here.

What absolutely has not worked is to just try and go about as if everything is normal in the hopes of "herd immunity."

People don't want to shut down the economy? Then wear a damn mask, social distance, and wash your hands.

 This is a mischaracterization of what they are saying.  But, what were we supposed to do with the "breathing room" the lockdowns gave us?

 It's certainly possible I'm misunderstanding what they are saying. It would be helpful if you shared your understanding of what they are saying -- if you just tell me I'm getting it wrong without providing what you think the correct interpretation is, I have no way of checking my understanding and correcting it if warranted.

As for the breathing room, any successful strategy has as its foundation testing. Frequent, widespread testing allows us to see where the disease is spreading and so have targeted restrictions. In the absence of that the response has to be broader, which is far more damaging. Even at this late date, we do not have adequate testing capacity in this country, and we do not have a consistent testing strategy.

Building on top of testing is changes in behavior to slow the spread. That means wearing masks and discouraging large groups congregating in poorly-ventilated areas. Here again we have been very inconsistent, with the president pushing a culture of rejecting mask wearing and other responsible behaviors. If, during the breathing room the lockdowns gave us, we had responsible messaging consistently from our leaders, we would have emerged at the end of it with far more people acting in responsible ways, greatly reducing the chances that post lockdown infection rates would go up again.

Since we haven't done these things, we now have the worst of both worlds, where the economy can't come anywhere close to being back and infection rates remain high. You said I am misunderstanding what they mean by letting people just live their lives normally, so presumably they then do NOT mean they just want millions of people to get infected. If that's the case, then their approach relies, to a large degree, on people choosing to behave responsibly, and on the community infection rates being low. This may apply in other countries, but that's not the situation in ours, so whatever the merits of the Great Barrington declaration, they do not seem to apply here.


terp said:

The recommendation was to limit exposure to those people by tightening the staff and to vigorously test staff and any visitors.

Vigorous testing at nursing homes.

Training and hiring replacements for all the vulnerable instructors in school and college classrooms.

Two very expensive, logistically complicated, government-intensive examples of focused protection.

And thanks for asking: Yes, Dad has been working the last six months. Two things about that, though. He works alone now, on small jobs, and doesn’t need the money. If nobody else he encountered during his day was taking precautions like masks and distancing, both unmentioned in the Declaration, I doubt he’d continue. Mainly, his situation got me thinking about all the vulnerable workers who do need the money, and who do service or manual work that isn’t outdoors and easily social-distanced.


terp said:

max_weisenfeld said:

Europeans had herd immunity to bubonic plague.  That's why only 1/3 of them died every time it flared up.

The problem with the analysis in the video is not the science, it is that you have three medical scientists trying to do an economic analysis.  They are outside of their fields and into a field where they know no more than you or I do.

 As I'm sure you know, here immunity is not a goal, but an inevitability.   The question is: how do we get there?  What is your proposal? 

And what economic aspect of the situation do you think they are wrong on?

We don't have herd immunity to polio, we have a vaccine.

We don't have herd immunity to smallpox, we have a vaccine.

Herd immunity to a deadly disease is not a goal, it's a capitulation.  The failure of the US government to adequately manage the pandemic has caused a great deal of unnecessary economic fallout, but the answer is not to just throw up our hands and surrender.  I am disappointed that so many intelligent people, such as the speakers in this video, cannot get their politics and fear out of the way and try to focus on helping others.

ETA The part of the economics they are wrong on specifically is the cost of healthcare for the overwhelming numbers of people who are going to get infected in order to develop what they dubiously call herd immunity.

I haven't even begun on the ethics of their proposal


National mask mandate would be a start!  Can anyone point to a scientific study that says this wouldn't make a difference?



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